Anika Goes to the Movies: Knives Out

Quick review: 4.5 stars If you like Agatha Christie, if you are looking for a less gruesome(albeit profanity heavy) way to introduce a teen to the murder mystery genre, or if you just finished binging ABC Murders on Amazon Prime and need something to take the edge off the hangover then this is the movie for you!! It hits all the mystery sweet spots and it manages to poke fun at the tropes even as it embraces them. You will have so much fun, I totally did. The only reason it doesn’t get a full five stars is I figured out the end at the beginning, but I had a great time riding the wave til we arrived at the conclusion.

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Longer review: The cast alone is a reason to see it. I would go watch a DMV line if it had Toni Collette in it. Jamie Lee Curtis is both formidable and tender. And who doesn’t like Chris Evans? It really is all-star, where everyone does the heavy lifting.

Now I don’t like Bond flicks, but I like Daniel Craig. So it’s nice to see him outside of the tux. I absolutely believe him as, “the last of the [Southern] gentlemen detectives.” He is delightfully human. There’s no sense of him being the austere, above-it-all detective we see in Hercule and Sherlock. At the same time he brings a gravitas to the whole affair that is desperately needed with the family being ridiculous to the extreme.

As the trailer lets us know, author Harlan Thromby (played by Christopher Plummer) has died in an apparent suicide. But there is much more than meets the eye to this case, and so detective Beniot Blanc is called in to investigate. 

Most members have a motive, but unlike a Christie mystery, the film lets us rule out a couple of players on the board early on. In fact, they make it really obvious exactly what happened. The fun of this film is the chase and the question, not of “whodunit” but how did all of this come about and what will go down next as the killer tries to cover their tracks.

At the center of it all is Marta, Harlan’s nurse and friend, played by Ana de Armas. I haven’t seen much of her filmography, shame on me I suppose, but I hope to see more of her in the future as her range is excellent. She makes the film so much of what it is.

It maintains it’s PG-13 rating really well. There’s more expletives than I think necessary, but nothing more vulgar than your average high school hallway. There is one gruesome shot of Harlan in his final state, slain on his study sofa by his own hand. Other than that there’s minimal violence on screen. So if you are looking for a movie and the teens are full revolt about seeing Frozen II, let grandma take the littles to see Elsa and Anna. Take the teens, grandpa, and uncle Eddy to Knives Out.

If there’s a lesson to be learned from this movie it’s that one can be a monster, not by a gruesome crime, but by just being a sucky person. Everyone in this family has disdain for the others, with good reason. Less than a handful are good people. They all backbite and grouse and make each other’s lives miserable. They are each other’s mutual punishment, the evidence of how nasty we can be when we are grieving, greedy, or dishonest at heart. Yet few of them are monoliths. Each is complicated, though some more than others.

And the jokes!! If you have not come in contact with Rian Johnson’s work before (if not I suggest starting with The Brother’s Bloom, also how is that possible- he did Last Jedi), then you know he is spot on with the humor. This is no exception. Each one liner lands perfectly and the long game builds to a crescendo that has the audience laughing out loud even in the tensest moments.

Like I mentioned above, I knew from the beginning what had really happened, if not all the details of how. And my husband had the who pegged from minute one. So between us we had it pinned down pretty quick, but unlike with some mysteries where that ruins the rest of the journey, I never felt it drag. There was always the sense of, “what’s gonna happen next!?” And also I’m not telling you who did it. Muahahaha! You’ve gotta go figure it out for yourselves.

If you love a good mystery, if you love it when a cast really plays off of each other, and if you don’t take yourself too seriously then Knives Out is one to see in the theaters.

Until next time, enjoy the show.

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